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Dealer Spotlight: United Truck Body

Dealer Spotlight: United Truck Body

Interviewee: Tim Herstadutb

Title: Sales Manager

Q. What is your approach to introducing alt fuels to your customers?

 A. I like to introduce the option of purchasing propane to all my customers — even the ones I don’t think will buy. Just five years ago, every Type C bus I sold was diesel. Then, in 2016, each Type C bus I sold was propane. That came from consistently chatting with customers to make sure that they hear the word propane, and get them used to hearing it. I think it’s especially important to bring up propane if a customer mentions any cold weather operation or regeneration issues. Propane buses don’t have those problems.

When I meet with a customer, I lead with the following selling points of propane:

#1: Reliability. What every school district wants — a bus that is on the road, not in the shop.

#2: Maintenance savings. Time saved in the shop.

#3: Fuel savings. Money put back in your pocket.

Q. Who do you partner with to sell alt fuels?

A. Having a propane provider that is knowledgeable about autogas and able to attend meetings is important. I work closely with COMO Propane to make sure my customers always have fuel and are saving dollars at the pump.

Q. What are some of the tools you use to sell alt fuels?

A. My two main tools are demo buses and propane fuel system knowledge.

Like many dealers, we believe that having propane demo buses and knowing about the fuel system is the way to go. But, we use them in a unique way. Here’s how we get the most from our demos.

We stock at least one, ideally a couple propane demos at all times. When one of my customers’ diesel buses breaks down, I bring them a propane bus to use while they get the diesel bus back up and running. This allows the school district to drive their routes in a propane bus without someone trying to sell them on the product the entire time. This also gives the district the opportunity to get a feel for how the propane bus would fit right into their operation. I also set up wet hose fueling with a local propane provider while the propane bus is in the customers’ hands so that they can experience the ease of fueling.

I’ve had a lot of success from this approach, and have converted at least five school districts from diesel customers to propane customers because of it.

I know the ins and outs of the propane fuel system in our buses. My feeling is that if you can service and fix it, you can sell it. Learning everything you can about the actual propane fuel system will help increase your sales.